Tag Archive for: renovation

New Albany’s wastewater treatment plant has been in the news for a couple of reasons lately.

First, the outmoded plant, about 70 years old, will soon be mostly replaced by a new plant north of the city.

The new plant will have updated equipment and larger capacity. It also will not be in the downtown area and adjacent to park and sportsplex areas like the present plant is.

Few people have been to the plant and many may not even know exactly where it is, reached by using Chickasaw Drive.

The present plant is large, about 40 acres, and could potentially represent a possible area for development or city use.

The second reason the facility is in the news concerns a connectivity plan to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and tie various tourism-related aspects of the city together.

Initially, planners suggested converting the wastewater plant area into an upscale RV park.

The problem with that is even after other parts of the facility are cleaned up to EPA specifications, one of the pools will have to be retained for emergency use. Also, a pumping station will be needed to pump waste to the new facility. The alternative would be to dig up and replace a huge amount of sewer pipe throughout the city.

This does not rule out having part of the property redeveloped but it is much too soon how practical that would be.

And even if the property cannot be redeveloped, officials say at least the odor problem should be mostly alleviated once the new plant goes into full operation next month.

The small size of the buildings in the distance gives an idea of how large the plant property is.

The Google photo shows how large the plant in the middle is and its proximity to the much smaller tennis complex below it.

Renovation and expansion of the Magnolia Civic Center stage, other than painting, should be ready this week

The civic center board voted to enlarge the stage and particularly extend the areas on the two edges to give more room for performances. At the same time the stage is being reinforced and efforts are being made to dampen sound. The reinforced stage will be adequate to hold a motorized lift unit acquired to afford better access to lighting and rigging over the stage. In the past, scaffolding or long ladders have had to be used.

The extension will require removing a couple of seats on the front two rows for fire safety and handicapped accessibility but the board is discussing reconfiguring the seating anyway. They are talking about creating a center aisle for easier accessibility to middle seats but this probably will not require the loss of any more seats because the two outside aisles are wide enough.

Another improvement is providing outside access to the storage area under the stage at ground level on the west side of the building. In the past, access was through an opening in the floor of the dressing area.

In connection with that, a rollup loading door will be installed offstage on the west side of the building to facilitate moving large set pieces and materials in and out of the building. Because the stage is on the second floor above ground level, some sort of lift will be needed at the loading door to end the practice of hoisting items up by brute force.

Building a ramp was discussed but a ramp to meet building codes would have to be about 80 feet long plus having landings and there is not sufficient room for that.

Work to improve the Tanglefoot Trail welcome center plaza is about complete except for landscaping in the two islands.

The large brick plaza will be a good location for outdoor library programs and private as well as public events. This is especially true in that the library meeting room is sometimes at capacity.

It will also benefit King Therapies next door across the trail because clients sometime engage in outdoor activities as well.

Some of the native plants have been retained and new steps make it easier for one to gain access to the plaza from the trail. The patio area extends to the library parking lot to the north.

The plaza was actually part of the original welcome center design when the building was slated to be north of its present location, where some trees are on the edge of the library parking area. It would have been in the area between the welcome center and the library.

The entire welcome center project was paid for with an MDOT grant plus money saved for the purpose from New Albany tourism tax revenues over several years.

No date was given as to when the improved plaza will be formally dedicated and placed into use.

The Ted McClure Construction Company is making improvements to the Magnolia Civic Center stage area.

The front of the stage is being extended for more usability, is being given a more aesthetic profile and the steps up to the stage will be recessed.

In addition to adding more stage space, the work includes strengthening the stage so a lift can be used on it safely and adding a layer of plywood.

Other improvements include adding a rollup door to the backstage area for loading and unloading, removing an unneeded door and adding a ground-level door to the storage area beneath the back stage. Currently, access to the storage area is through a hole in the floor in the dressing room area, which has been deemed both impractical and potentially dangerous.

With the lifting on pandemic restrictions, civic center manager Emily Draffen has been increasing the number of events at the facility.

Upcoming events include a creative playmaking summer camp for youths July 19-23, a murder mystery dinner (to be held this time at the Union County Heritage Museum, Hee Haw Aug. 13 and 14, and Brennan Villines Quartet presents The Jazz Age Aug. 28.

Building Inspector Eric Thomas talks with Ted McClure

Architect Ross Barkley with Fred's plan NEMiss.News


The renovation of the former Fred’s store into a municipal complex may start as early as May, depending on how much the pandemic has inflated construction materials costs.

City officials met with New Albany native  and architect Ross Barkley Friday for a final update before bid advertisements are prepared. He said he hopes to have the advertisements ready by mid-February and then give contractors 45 days in which to calculate their costs before submitting bids to be opened.

That would mean it will be in April before officials learn how far their money will go.

When the light, gas and water department purchased the building for the city this past year they estimated the cost would be about $2.5 million to convert it for utility and police department space. They set aside $3 million from a bond issue to pay for the work and furnishings.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in manpower and materials shortages as well as transportation delays, however, driving the estimated price up to $5 million.

This has forced officials to trim the project as much as they can without sacrificing functionality, and they still may have to do the work in phases rather than all at once.

When the advertisements go out, the base bid will only include renovation of the building exterior and finishing the light, gas and water department, which will occupy about half the space. The utility comes first because it is providing the money.

Bid alternate one will add the police department to the base bid. Alternate two will add the exterior of the former WIC building as well as the interior, excluding the courtroom.

After the city purchased the Fred’s building the owners of the adjacent WIC building on Carter Avenue offered it to the city. The city purchased it for use as a municipal court building and city boardroom.

Finally, bid alternate three would add the courtroom, which will cost more than office space, to construction.

“This way you can see what the cost is for each department,” Barkley said. He estimated the WIC building would cost about $700,000 alone, another reason to make it a lower priority.

The one exception in the alternates is that a police dispatch office, which also will be a safe room, will be in the base bid rather than alternate one.

Barkley said they have tried to lean more toward open workspace than individual offices to reduce costs.

“We have tried to be good stewards of the city’s money and I think we have hit the sweet spot,” Barkley said. He was referring to the need to balance quality with expense.

Lobby furnishings and public areas will be slightly nicer while non-public areas will be adequate but not fancy with medium-grade finish.

The exterior work will include a partial new roof, HVAC units, adding windows in the east and west walls and installing the light, gas and water drive-up window to the northwest corner of the building.

While Fred’s had a drive-through window for the pharmacy on the east side of the building, leaving it there would cause traffic congestion and safety problems for the police department.

There is not enough money to repave the large parking lot but it will be re-striped. Trees will be planted and a walk added for safety and other reasons where some parking spaces are literally on the edge of Main Street.

Although there is a large parking area, the departments will use much of that space and it will really make sense for those attending municipal court to park directly across the street in the library parking lot.

Department heads agreed that they are happy to focus on functionality first.

“There is still room to grow,” light, gas and water manager Bill Mattox said.

Obviously the utility and police departments are priorities but can continue to operate where they are a little longer.

As far as municipal court, the lowest priority, is concerned, the municipal court clerk’s staff is already renting space next to the police department and can continue there. County officials have allowed the city to use the justice courtroom at the jail but really want the city to move to its own for space.

The city not only ties up the courtroom, but adds congestion to the jail lobby and leads to people mistaking the justice court clerk’s office for the municipal clerk’s office. This just means unnecessary distractions for the justice court staff.

For the time being, the WIC building could probably be used as a courtroom with minimum work one and simply moving chairs into the space.

Concerning the bids, Barkley said the city may get some help in that they can negotiate with the lowest bidder for up to a 10-percent reduction, and contractors usually can find a way to work with the city.

Also, even though the light, gas and water department is paying for the project it can recoup some of that money by charging the police department rent.

Barkley added that they will be publicizing the bid advertisements to a larger pool of contractors and giving them plenty of time in an effort to help bring in lower prices.

NEMiss.News plans for former Fred's store


New Albany officials hope to advertise for bids on the renovation of the former Fred’s building in February. Eventually, the building will be the new home for the New Albany light, gas and water (NALGW) and police departments. The result of those bids will determine how quickly and how much work may begin.

The city – more accurately the light, gas and water department – purchased the building about a year ago. The city has needed more space for its departments for several years. The closing and availability of Fred’s appeared to be an opportune time to solve part of those problems.

Clockwise from upper left are Ross Barkley, Samantha Campbell, electric department engineer Will Denton, Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson, Mayor Tim Kent, Police Chief Chris Robertson (mostly hidden), Assistant Chief Clay Keener and Light, Gas and Water Manager Bill Mattox.

They were able to purchase the former retail building for $600,000, slightly less than appraised value. Later, the owner of the nearby WIC nutrition office offered it to the city, which purchased that for $289,000.

The original plan was to include a city courtroom and boardroom in the Fred’s building. However, adding the WIC building meant it could house the combination courtroom and boardroom, leaving more space for the other two departments in the larger building.

At the time, officials had financing worked out with the utility issuing bonds to be repaid by electric department revenue.

A $13.5 million bond issue was to provide $3 million for the Fred’s project and WIC renovation. Most of the rest pays for a needed new power substation on Hwy. 348 to replace the aged one on TVA property. Also included was converting to remote reading of residential electric meters and other electric grid improvements.

However, thanks to manufacturing and transportation problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, the cost of building materials has approximately doubled.

That means the project is going to cost closer to $5 million than $2.4 million.

Since then, officials have been working with architects to modify the design in an effort to cut unnecessary expense, without sacrificing functionality or quality.

New Albany native Ross Barkley and architecture firm Eley Barkley Dale of Oxford are designing the project.

At a planning meeting with city officials Friday, Barkley said the planning work is at about 90 percent complete as his firm works out final details.

“We were going for a nice look, but cost-conscious,” he said. “I think we hit the sweet spot. We’re at about the middle range for everything.”

Although some materials costs are going down, it is only very slightly and not yet significant, he added.

Because of the concern over cost, the project will be bid in several parts in case the city has to begin with limited renovation and proceed one step at a time.

The base bid will include the exterior work on renovation of former Fred’s building, plus the interior half of the building designated for NALGW. Technically, NALGW is paying for everything.

Bid alternate one would add completing the police department. Bid alternate two would add exterior work on the WIC building and alternate three would complete work on the WIC building turning it into a municipal courtroom.

A rough architect’s guess is the building work will cost $4 million and furniture and related items will add $200,000 to $300,000, meaning the total would probably end up closer to $5 million.

Mayor Tim Kent said, “We are having to focus on needs more than wants,” but added that he believes light, gas and water manager Bill Mattox and police chief Chris Robertson are satisfied with the plans given the constraints necessary. “I’m all about functionality,” the chief said.

The challenge is paying for the needed project without raising taxes and city officials are working on that now.

Although they are disappointed by the unexpected large materials price increase, they are cautiously optimistic.

“I think it’s going to be something we are proud of,” Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson said.

Representing Eley Barkley Dale at Friday’s meeting were Ross Barkley, Shelby Mitchell, Leigh Ann Black and Samantha Campbell.

The proposed ground plan for the Fred’s building with the police department left and NALGW to the right inside the present main entrance.

The former WIC building on Carter Avenue will house municipal court with a courtroom that can serve as city boardroom also.

NEMiss.news Community Center renovation continues

Crews were paving areas with brick and adding landscape vegetation Monday around the New Albany Community Center.

New walkway areas have been added with safer steps to the street and plaza areas are now in front of and on the west side of the building. Architect Sam Creekmore, who designed the update, said he is planning another plaza type of area on the north side of the building. The lower level of the block has had new playground and picnic equipment added with existing equipment being renovated. Some trees have been planted as well and some off-street parking is planned for the upper area.

The building will remain handicapped-accessible, of course, but the old wrought iron posts will be replaced with sold posts and some of the other incompatible features changed.

Inside, the building has new handicapped-accessible restrooms, new floor and ceiling and the former stage area was removed to provide more room. The kitchen was removed along with the stage area and a new kitchen created on what used to be the north porch of the building.

A grant from Toyota helped pay for the playground equipment. Mayor Tim Kent said the city had been putting some tourism tax money aside for a few years to pay for the community center renovation.

The community center should be ready for public use at about the first of the year.

Below are more photos of the work being done:

Interest in using the community center, or community house to many New Albanians, has been increasing and is expected to grow more thanks to work being done there.

The interior of the more than 60-year-old building has been redone with a new ceiling, floor, walls and handicapped-accessible restrooms.

The old kitchen was removed and a more suitable version was constructed on what was once the north porch. The stage at the east end was removed along with associated walls so the entire area is now an open rectangle and appears much, much larger than before. Mayor Tim Kent said it could probably seat 200 easily, once COVID rules are relaxed.

The work this week involved new exterior concrete steps and curved walkways, some of which will be bricked. Landscaping will be added as well.

In addition to the new walk and steps leading to the building, a patio is being added on the edge of the bank west of the building and overlooking the play area.

New play equipment has been installed on the lower part of the park and the large piece of equipment that was there has been renovated and painted for a new look.

Benches and picnic tables are going to be added and some trees have been planted around the perimeter.

Mayor Kent said some off-street parking probably will be added in the area north of the building where the swimming pool used to be.

A Toyota grant helped fund the playground equipment but the building and exterior work is being paid for with tourism tax money. Kent said they have been putting some money away every year for a few years for the project.

The community house should be ready for use after the first of the year and will be a good alternative to the Magnolia Room at the civic center because it is so much larger.

This plan shows the location of the various new elements.


Improvements at all the city school campuses, funded by an $8.5 million bond issue from the previous year, are finally wrapping up.

The last part, renovation at New Albany High School is nearing completion with the installation of new windows, Superintendent Dr. Lance Evans told trustees at their board meeting this past week. About all that remains is the security system and completing the punch list, he said.

Major components included a new roof at the elementary school and replacement of heating and air conditioning units as well as beefing up safety and security features.

“It’s all starting to get to the end,” Evans said. “We’re moving ahead and excited about finishing up.”

With the adoption of a return to school plan during the meeting, officials are concluding the past year’s session and working on the upcoming fall.

As is usually the case at this time of year, several personnel changes were addressed.

They include:

  • The resignation of Buddy Hall as assistant football coach, New Albany High School
  • Naming Jake McDonald as assistant football coach, New Albany High School
  • Naming Allen Ball as assistant basketball coach, New Albany High School
  • Naming Allie Catt as teacher, New Albany High School, pending approval of MDE certification
  • Naming Jonathon Garrison as teacher, Career and Technical School, pending approval of MDE certification
  • Naming Matt Tyer as teacher, New Albany Middle School
  • Naming Mattie Mills as teacher assistant, New Albany Middle School
  • Naming Emily Garrett as teacher, New Albany Elementary School
  • Naming Jessica Stacks as receptions and clerk at the central office
  • Approving all classified staffs at the schools, in transportation, maintenance and central office.

In financial business, Director of Accounting Services Suzanne Coffey reported that the district continues to be in good shape. The district had collected 92 percent of its expected tax revenue. She added that two more months remain to be collected and it should be no problem to get the budgeted $136,000.

Expenditures were at 83 percent for the year, but she pointed out that some end-of-year expenses remain.

Coffey also reported that the district has been able to pay off a 2008 construction note that a two-mill levy had been designated for. A resolution passed by the board allows the schools to keep the levy at no additional cost to taxpayers for future use.

The school board approved going ahead and seeking proposals to replace school iPads. Evans said the district can use CARES funds from the state given as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Utilizing that money now should get the schools better prices rather than waiting until later when there is more competition.

In information items, trustees were told that elementary teacher Sarah Garrett is being transferred to become media specialist at the middle school. Also, NASTUC teacher Elke Lipsey is being to teach at the career and technical school. Since these are transfers rather than new employment, no board vote was needed.

In other business they approved routine business and handbooks for certified teachers, classified employees and the student handbook.

The next scheduled meeting of the school board will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3. At this time the board plans to meet in person in the boardroom of the central office rather than through teleconferencing.

Before adjourning, the board met in executive session concerning a personnel issue. No action was reported.

Although the coronavirus has brought many activities to a halt, work has been continuing on renovation of New Albany’s community center. The new ceiling has been installed and base painting has been done, making the space appear much larger. The space is larger because the former kitchen and stage area have been removed. Part of the enclosed north porch area is being converted into the new kitchen, where wiring was being installed Tuesday.

Not visible in photo, Community Development assistant Tracy Vainisi has volunteered to do interior painting to help save money.

Also, some landscaping has been added to the entire park block.

A place where many older residents used to spend weekend nights and possibly danced with someone of the opposite sex for the first time is getting a new life.

Workers are in the process of renovating the city’s approximately 60-year-old community center on Wilson Street.

The center was heavily used during its first decades of life, particularly as a place for chaperoned proms, dances with live bands and school-age gatherings. The entire block was in use more because the city swimming pool was situated behind the center as well.

At one point the building suffered fire damage and was repaired, but gradually began to fall out of use as often. The area traffic was further reduced when the tennis courts on the lower part of the block were removed and the pool, which was by then losing 50,000 gallons of water a day, was closed and filled in.

Now, the building is getting a new ceiling and other interior work. The kitchen also is being renovated with more up-to-date equipment. The restrooms have already been brought up to handicapped accessible standards.

The room has a large fireplace which used to be functional but is not now. It was not determined whether the chimney would be opened back up, or something like gas logs might be installed.

Further plans call for eventually updating the exterior of the building and adding considerable landscaping. A small stage area will be constructed down the hill from the center as well, and it is hoped that grant money obtained can be used for new playground equipment.

Mayor Tim Kent said they need to provide some off-street parking, probably where the swimming pool used to be, behind the center.

Use of the center is going to be promoted more. It is considered a better space for most meetings and events such as receptions than the Magnolia Room at the civic center because of its larger area. It also is expected to be a better space in terms of affordability with the Magnolia Room used more for governmental or business events.

“The whole block has been under used for years,” Kent said, and the plan is to change that. A new perception of the area after the work is done should help, he added.


Some of the office space where a porch used to be, and the large fireplace